When growing up, did you ever want to find a treasure chest? A chest that would be full of all the riches a kid could imagine? Or perhaps you went on a rock collecting expedition and found a rare gem? Treasures come in many forms and sizes. What may be trash to one will have value to another. My family didn't have lots of money growing up. My grandfather and father worked in a landfill. A lot of our bikes and some of our toys came from there. Some of you will probably think, "How awful!" I didn't and neither did my brother; we knew it was from the heart and that's what counts. A family can be a treasure that a kid should always count on.
A family at its core is based on love. It starts with love between a husband and wife. Ideally, this love should last forever. We learn it from God. We then pass it on to our kids, who pass it on to theirs, and then theirs, and so on and so forth. Love never grows stale; it just keeps on refreshing.
A family that starts with the premise, "Christ first in our lives" is founded on a sure foundation. Does this mean that a "Christian" family is a happy-go-lucky-blessed-forever-sappy family, where all the problems are fixed in a span of ten minutes? No, quite the contary. I have made some terrible decisions in my life. I have a feeling that my guardian angel, Todd got quite a workout when I was younger. We all have made some bad choices in our lives; if we're honest with ourselves, no life is perfect. I know of a girl in high school who was a Christian, got pregnant and kept her baby. This girl, now a God fearing woman, probably wouldn't change that choice she made way back when if you paid her a million dollars. Chances are her family stood by her in her time of need.
One of the benefits of a family is companionship. Regardless if you are a thousand miles away, you will always have a home. Growing up, I wondered if there was anything I could do that would break the cord that is between a child and his parents. I didn't really want to find out; just sort of wondered. My brother, the wild one, got two tattoos and that didn't break it. The response was "That's nice dear," from Mom. Dad's was, "It's your money." You might say I sowed my wild oats through my brother. But through it all, my family has always been there for each other when one of us was in need. We kids were able to count on Mom and Dad and our grandparents, Pa and Nan.
Mom and Dad; two of the greatest titles in the world. Momma. She has a way of cutting through life's muck and getting to the core of the issue. One of the jobs I had was working for Sears. I hated it. It was making me surly. I had been coming home with a rotten disposition on life. One Saturday morning Momma, Dad, and myself were sitting around eating breakfast and watching what I thought was blather. Mom was watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evans talk about their fiftieth wedding anniversary. My response was, "ISN'T THAT SPECIAL?" Then I heard sobs. I looked over, Momma was in tears and said, "I think it is!" I felt like scum. Imagine making your mother CRY. She later told me that she didn't recognize me because my attitude changed so drastically. Later on that day, I went out and bought her roses and brought them to her. As I walked in with them, Dad, ever the quick wit, said, "You think that's going to work?" It did. The following Monday, I went out and found another job.
My Dad has always been there for us. He gave away his only daughter to a man that loves her almost as much as he does. He always tried to make it to my brother's and my high school football games. He even called me Jerry (my name is Jim and no one in my family is named Jerry either!), on a family vacation one year. That still has Mom in stitches whenever the story is brought up. He has given us kids some pretty good advice in our own adult lives. He has stayed active in his and Mom's church.
When I was growing up, I had a speech impediment. It still creeps out every so often in my adult life. My wife, Judy usually says,"Elmuh in da house!" when she hears it. Anyway, one year for Christmas, Nan and Pa got Dad a reel to reel tape recorder. Dad was showing us kids how to use it by recording different things. I got excited and scrambled words came out. Dad told me to say it again, and say it slowly. They were always telling me this. So again I said it slowly into the microphone. Then added, "You know people, I'm wetawded!" Then I heard, "JAMES ROSS!!!" I looked up and Dad and the rest of the family had tears in their eyes from laughter. Through it all, Dad has been a good example for my brother and myself to follow as we lead our own families.
Nan and Pa were the epitomy of grandparents. Nan was the first one to ever get me drunk. The family was in a resturant for Mother's Day, 1975. I was sixteen years old. I know this is sounding like a Jerry Springer episode (My grandmother got me drunk!), but everyone was having wine to drink except me. Nan offered me a sip of wine and I took one. I placed the glass close to my plate, and the waitress came up and said, "Oh I see what's going on," then she asked Dad if it was all right for her to bring me an empty glass. Dad said all right, and Nan poured half of her glass into mine. I started to sip. Nan told me to drink it like I was drinking water, so down it went. About ten minutes later Mom asked me what was wrong and I told her that I felt very warm and dizzy. "No more, James Ross!"
When Pa and Nan were first married, they ran a trucking business from which they helped support his family, by providing them work during the Great Depression. He loved his family; they always came first. He would be the first to help his grandkids if we needed help with any of our cars. He was the original shade tree mechanic and he knew what he was doing under the hood. He was able to give me a love for the railroads by telling me stories of them and working with me on a model railroad. He was a walking encyclopedia. An avid reader, he would always have a great story to read to his grandkids. When asked if he would like a trip around the world, he would reply, "Nope. I've seen enough of the world to know that this is where I want to spend the rest of my life."
I have deep lasting memories of my boyhood, and of the people that had a great influence on my life. I didn't find a treasure chest as a kid, I was born in one!